What more is there to say about one of the most well-known sci-fi movies? We all know of the bullet time, the red pill or the blue pill and Agent Smith. Everyone remembers Morpheus, the long, black coats and the dark shades. While the legacy it created is very impressive, it's also necessary to look at the movie on its own, without being influenced by its success.
Reeve's plays Thomas Anderson who lives a double life. Whilst by day he works at a dull desk job, he is also a hacker known simply as Neo. When contacted by the mysterious and deadly Trinity, he finds himself in danger from the Agents, who aim to take down these hackers. The early dramatic scene showing Neo's attempt to escape from the Agents introduces us to the excellent camera work utilised in the action. The viewer feels very involved in the pace of these scenes, as it closely follows Neo's movements without too many cuts that are often used in modern action films and sometimes can be to distracting and unnecessary in my opinion. Neo is drawn in to Trinity's world and meets the famed master hacker Morpheus, portrayed well by Laurence Fishburne. The film does well to create a lot of mystery around the identity of the Matrix, so by the time Neo learns of what it is we can relate to his amazement. The Agents are menacing and intimidating, with their dark glasses and earpieces, so they're very convincing as a constant threat to the hackers.
The action scenes, in particular the last forty minutes, are clearly something special, and must have been even more spectacular in 1999. The use of slow motion benefits these scenes without feeling pointless and overused, as it usually saved for the wall running and bullet dodging, the latter a particularly jaw-dropping effect (though rarely used). The fist fights are another highlight, with the well choreographed
Sadly though the acting doesn't live up to the action. While Fishburne is good as Neo's guide, Reeve's is incredibly wooden. He is unbelievably unconvincing as Neo, with his only expression being confused. His lack of emotion and believability has become his most well known trait, and deservedly so. Luckily for him, many of the scenes here require him to look scared and intimidated, which he manages to pull off to a degree. It says a lot about his acting that his moments in The Matrix are completely without dialogue and filled with guns and stunt doubles.
Ultimately, The Wachowski's created a very entertaining and very memorable movie that has a very high entertainment value. The visuals and camerawork, particularly in the matrix, are stunning and can't be held back by Reeve's creakiness. While the futuristic scenes are noticeably less interesting and engaging, overall this is a worthwhile watch which deserved its success far more than its two sequels.